Wednesday, February 21, 2007

John R.W. Stott's The Cross of Christ and Penal Substitutionary Atonement

Last night I finished reading John RW Stott's book The Cross of Christ. I had been reading the 20th Anniversary Edition which was published in 2005.

In that edition's forward, Alister McGrath calls the book "the most respected and authoritative evangelical writing" dealing with the cross of Christ. He continues, "It is, in my view, John Stott's greatest and best work, written at the height of his career...." Regarding the book, JI Packer comments, "This, more than any book he has written, is his masterpiece." DA Carson judges it "a 'must read.'"

Stott views the cross as central to the Christian life. He approvingly cites a quote by Roger Beckwith and Colin Buchanan:

...all progress in the Christian life depends upon a recapitulation of the original terms of one's acceptance with God.
One of Stott's purposes of his book is to defend the historic penal substitutionary understanding of the cross, a view of the atonement that has dominated evangelicalism, but which has also been questioned from time to time in the church's history including by some today in the emerging church. In doing this he builds on the prior work of Leon Morris' definitive The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross.

In my own judgment, anyone who is seriously considering departing from this understanding of the cross must review Stott (and Morris) before they can feel confident that they have examined the topic from all angles. Stott's book is not a difficult read but at 380 pages it is quite thorough. He does see truths in alternative atonement theories but disagrees with any who would affirm them to deny penal substitution.

There is so much of worth in Stott's magnum opus that I plan to devote a number of posts to considerations of his book. It is a book that I can easily see folks committing to reading once yearly.

highly recommended and more to come

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Anonymous said...

Groover here:
I haven't read Stotts work, but if one wants a smaller version, I recommend The Passion of Jesus Christ: 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper.

You can pick up a copy at Amazon for $0.01

paul hill said...

Speaking of models of the atonement, Dennis Kinlaw, a Methodist theologian, has a great one called, "Let's Start with Jesus" where he describes the different metaphors for the atonement: the judicial, the familial and the nuptial.